SUBMITTED JULY 2017
I began my armchair sleuthing much like everyone else probably does… a word or a phrase in the poem caught my attention and I linked it to a place or a natural feature in the Rocky Mountains and attempted to build a sequence from there. I immediately had a hunch that Yellowstone was the general venue for the hunt. Phrases like “look quickly down” and “tarry scant” had me thinking about geysers. Embarrassingly, my first inception of a solve had the treasure chest tucked into a crevice of Lone Star Geyser’s orifice! Don’t stop reading now… I’ve come a long way since then! As I learned more about and the features and history of the area, and about Forrest’s life experiences, I began to see certain tracts in nature and circumstance that appeared to link nicely with several of the lines of the poem. One such tract has been common to many searchers: Madison Junction down Madison Canyon to below Hebgen Dam… from there I considered heading up Beaver Creek and toward Avalanche Lake or, as an alternative, heading further down the Madison River and up the West Madison and Lake Creek toward Wade and Cliff Lakes. These areas could be made to fit much of the poem, and as Forrest’s old stomping grounds they seemed a likely setting for his secret spot. The problem I sensed was that Hebgen Lake is too obviously a link to home of Brown… anyone could come up with that and skip the previous clues to start there. This is a problem because the poem has been carefully crafted and all of the clues are important and need to be followed in sequence.
Then I directed my attention to the blaze. I saw the blaze as an opportunity to instrumentally link distant features on the map that are “too far to walk” between. The blaze would be a symbol drawn over a conventional map to indicate the treasure location. All of the clues would be needed to create and use the blaze. I tried to see a blaze that would fit the previously mentioned sequence and the best I came up with was a rough lightning bolt that started at MJ and ended at Avalanche Lake. This didn’t seem right…it didn’t reveal anything new to me. I moved on and began looking for blazes that I imagined might be a circle with a center marking the treasure location; or a spiral that trended inward ever to the left; or a big “X” to mark the spot.
My attention gravitated toward The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone because YNP was my best interpretation of WWWH and The Grand Canyon, of course, is the natural “canyon down”. I noticed on the map that the left trending arc created by the Yellowstone River roughly complements part of the Grand Loop Road to form much of a circle. I recognized that the center of this circle would be way too remote to be a feasible treasure location, but I continued studying the perimeter for locations that might link to the poem and support the form. Sheepeater Cliffs is a stop along the section of Grand Loop Road that aligns with the circle… “no place for the meek”, I thought. I had learned about old Joe Brown, the miner who struck gold on Bear Creek just up river from Gardiner, MT, and the north entrance of YNP. My map showed Joe Brown Creek (I assumed his home site) just above the boaters access on the Yellowstone used to “put in” or “take out” just before dropping the rapids of Yankee Jim Canyon. This was well off of the circle, but I became fond of the spot as an interpretation of “put in below the home of Brown”, and many times my eyes traced the Yellowstone from the Canyon to this “put in”. I noted that this section of the Yellowstone bent into a decent spine of a lower case letter “f”. Crevice Creek as “heavy loads and water high” seemed the best feature to define the cross bar. A line drawn ever left from Sheepeater Cliffs completes the horizontal perfectly. I had my primo solve completed up to the blaze: “f” marks the spot!!
I had a nagging doubt about my solve before boots hit the ground in August 2016… the shortest trail to the crosshairs of the “f” at the base of Crevice Creek was every bit of two miles and steep! When I drove out through Jardine and found that access to the trail head required driving into private land with foreboding signage I knew my primo solve was no bueno. I had to see the “f” spot, though, so I walked the five mile route down Deer Creek Trail to the Yellowstone River Trail to access the base of Crevice Creek. It was worth it! You should go there.
I had several days left to my trip but was uninspired by my other solve fragments so I went “Fenn touring”. I went to West Yellowstone and checked out The Dude Motel, walked along the Madison off of the Down River Loop Trail, swam in Firehole Canyon, waded in the waters of Ojo Caliente, and even drove out to the old Fishing Bridge. The highlight, my personal Fenn tourism stop, was a visit to Lone Star Geyser. I promise I didn’t try to look in it!
My thoughts were still gravitating around my spoiled “f” solve, but the day’s activities had helped my mind relax a little. Suddenly I had it! I had become fixated on the “f” formed by the arcing Yellowstone River whilst attempting to draw a circle out of part of its curve and a complementary section Grand Loop Road. This region of the map was burned into my mind from hours of study at home and while I was driving out to Fishing Bridge the image of the blaze emerged and I instantly knew I was on the right track…
I had found an arrowhead!
Take a look at the park map:
Can you see it?